Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Native American mobile exhibit will continue touring through December

Monday, September 3, 2012
The Southeast Explorer, which was previously a mini-van, was upgraded to a 38-foot RV in 2004 at the request of Southeast Missouri State University President Dr. Kenneth W. Dobbins. Photo by Nathan Hamilton

This fall Southeast Missouri State University students can travel back in time and journey through Native American history, starting with the prehistoric period through the Native American's contact with the Europeans, by stepping aboard the Southeast Explorer.

The Southeast Explorer is a mobile museum, which takes a piece of Southeast's Rosemary Berkel and Harry L. Crisp II Museum and carries it to schools in the counties surrounding Cape Girardeau whenever it is not at the River Campus. In 2003, the Southeast Explorer was just a minivan, but in 2004, the museum on wheels was upgraded to a 38-foot RV.

It was made larger at the request of Southeast Missouri State University President Dr. Kenneth W. Dobbins.

The expansion was made possible with the help of former Sen. Christopher Bond, U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson and the NASA Educator Resource Center at Southeast.

The Southeast Explorer now travels to 25 counties, visiting both public and private schools.

Apart from the exhibits there are activities for the visitors.

These activities are geared for grades 3-6, according to the Southeast Explorer's website, but students of all ages can visit the museum.

The Southeast Explorer is also available for public events. It will be at the SEMO District Fair in September, said Southeast Explorer outreach specialist Gary Tyler.

Tyler has driven the RV for the past four years. * He is also responsible for leading the tours, co-designing the exhibits and cleaning the RV. Tyler shows the students around the Southeast Explorer and answers their questions about the artifacts.

During visits to schools students have approximately two minutes to examine each station. There are 12 stations that make up the current exhibition.

The stations have information about the ancient Native Americans, such as those from the Paleo-Indian and Archaic periods.

There also are artifacts and archaeology site tools from the Mississippian period. Visitors can even see some of the different canoes that were used or get on a computer to learn about famous Native Americans and other things. Tyler enjoys leading these tours because he gets to see the amazement on the students faces as they walk into the RV.

He said it is a look of "wow."He enjoys seeing them, "have that moment of connecting with our past," and also, "the light of enjoyment in learning take place."

Tyler said students often do not want to leave the RV.

The Native American exhibit will continue to be featured through December. A new exhibit will be on display in spring. The exhibits change every six months.The new exhibit's theme will be the history of NASA.

Tyler said he hopes that the NASA exhibit will include a case about privatizing space exploration.

After the NASA exhibit, the Southeast Explorer will house an exhibit about the history of Missouri.

Booking the Southeast Explorer is free, but reservations are first come, first served.

Anyone interested in touring the museum should contact * the curator of education Ellen Hahs at 573-651-2301.